The season decider in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) went down to the wire last night, when the Lamigo Monkeys clinched the second-half title by edging the Uni-President Lions 9-7 at Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium, with Wang “The King” Po-jung hitting a home run to secure the victory.
While the Lions were behind 0-6, they rallied for six runs in the second, with outfielder Pan Wu-hsiung hitting a three-run homer.
The score remained 6-6 until the fifth frame, when Wang stepped up to the plate with one runner on base and slammed a shot over the right-field wall for two runs.
The Monkeys then scored a run in the top of the ninth, but the Lions could not close the gap, scoring only one run in the bottom of the inning.
The two teams were level on identical 34-25 second-half records heading into last night’s final contest of the regular season.
Lamigo captured the title in both halves of the season and secured a place in the Taiwan Series championship finals, which are scheduled to begin on Oct. 28.
Behind them in the second half of the season were the Fubon Guardians with a 28-32 record in third place, while Brothers Baseball Club finished last with a 23-37 record.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Lions are to take on the Brothers in a best-of-five series, which is to begin on Friday next week in Tainan.
Last night’s game began in the second inning, with Lamigo leading 6-0, in a continuation of their game on Sept. 7 that was postponed due to rain.
League officials at the time could not have known that the game would become the decider for the title, with the outcome determining playoff berths.
With his two-run homer last night, Wang added to his home run and RBI tallies to confirm his superstar hitter status, winning the “quadruple crown” for the season.
Just like last year, Wang was in a league of his own, finishing the season as No. 1 in home runs (31), RBIs (101), hits (178) and batting average (0.407 prior to last night’s contest).
For pitchers, American starter Mike Loree of the Fubon Guardians completed the season with the most wins (16), strikeouts (154) and lowest ERA (2.18).
Lamigo closer Chen Yu-hsun entered last night’s game in the eighth inning to register another save, his 37th of the season, a new CPBL record.
In the first half of the season, which wrapped up in the second week of July, the Monkeys had the best record with 43 wins in 60 games to run away with the title.
Brothers Baseball Club were runners-up with 30 wins, while the Lions and Guardians had 23 and 20 victories respectively to finish the first half in third and fourth place.
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